BACKGROUND: Current knowledge regarding the time course of aphasia recovery is based on observations limited to the first years after stroke.
OBJECTIVE: The authors studied long-term outcome (25 years) of language in a patient with global aphasia.
METHODS: A 37-year-old man with global aphasia from a large ischemic lesion in the left middle cerebral artery territory was tested 9 times between 3 weeks and 25 years poststroke by means of the Milan Language Examination, Token Test, Raven Test, and apraxia tests.
RESULTS: Three main periods of recovery were identified. The first year after stroke was characterized by recovery of verbal comprehension and word repetition. From 1 to 3 years, naming and reading improved. From 3 to 25 years, progressive improvement of previously emerged functions was found, as well as the appearance of spontaneous speech.
CONCLUSIONS: This unique long-term follow-up shows that the time span for recovery of language functions in global aphasia after stroke may be much longer than previously documented.